JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Thousands of Jacksonville’s cancer patients may soon get some financial relief for their treatments.
The Florida House and Senate are considering the “Cancer Treatment Fairness Act,” which would reduce the cost of oral pill chemotherapy. If passed, it would require insurance companies to cover all cancer treatments the same way.
Bobbi deCordova-Hanks is a 27-year survivor of three different forms of cancer. She tells our partner Action News she’s tried both intravenous and pill forms of chemotherapy.
“It's just thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars,” she says. “I just recently paid off a 24-year loan that covered some of my treatments.”
She says she’s been paying big for life like other people she knows.
“I hear from women of all ages and it breaks my heart because they tell me, ‘I'm not going to die of cancer, I'm going to die of paperwork.’”
Over the last decade, chemotherapy treatments have advanced from the intravenous method, which requires hours-long visits to the doctor. Nowadays, more people are taking a treatment pill at home.
“This is the way cancer treatment is going,” says Dr. Cynthia Anderson, a Radiation Oncologist with the Baptist Cancer Institute.
Anderson tells Action News that insurance companies are falling behind with their coverage options. She says companies often cover I.V. treatments under medical plans, but pill treatments under drug plans with different co-pays, deductibles and pricing. The pill treatments can run in the thousands of dollars.
“The side effects can be less than with the IV treatment and they're just as effective, so we need to bring insurance companies up to date.”
DeCordova-Hanks says a bill that would require insurance companies to cover all streatments the same way would keep pateints focused on living, instead of their next treatment bill.
“If the insurance companies would cover it, the expense for us would go down tremendously.”
So far, only two senators and two representatives have voted against the act in subcommittee hearings. Although he says it’s a worthy effort, Sen. John Tobia tells Action News his staff research found that the act would be the 60th mandate on private health insurance, and would add to the rising cost of health insurance for Florida families.
Right now, the act is before both the Senate and House appropriations committees.